NC Senator Chuck Edwards of Western North Carolina co-sponsored a bill to hold needle exchanges responsible for the activities they purport to do. The filed version of the bill can be found here:
The amendments require that the exchange programs have to operate out of legitimate stationary facilities, and not out of an ambulance, van or hot dog stand. Volunteer exchanges in Buncombe county distribute needles directly to low income / government assisted living areas by parking their mobile unit in front of the housing complex. They don’t need to be reminded that residents of gov’t assisted living forfeit their right to assistance if convicted of drug possession. Additionally, the mobile unit provides no facility for private counseling.
The Current Overdose Epidemic
Charlotte Observer and other media publications claim that overdoses in this state continue to climb to new levels. If these needle exchanges were effective in their current implementation, we should not see an increase in overdoses. The fact that overdoses have continued to rise only point out that needle exchanges have done little, if not nothing to mitigate deaths. Requiring rehab is the opportunity cost for the addicted. Rehab will separate those who want to get clean from those that are taking advantage of free needles so they can spend on more drugs.
Needles on School Playgrounds
Prior to the Covid pandemic, schools located adjacent to a needle exchange facility in West Asheville had to spend their budget to employ a cleanup crew to rake their playgrounds and sandboxes for broken and discarded needles. Those that use drugs are likely mentally impaired and don’t care where they leave their discarded needles (SHARPS CONTAINERS DON’T WORK). Needle litter in West Asheville is observed up to 2 miles from a needle exchange site. To mitigate the litter problem on school grounds, exchange facilities will be located a minimum distance of 3 miles from any school.
Needle exchanges, as they operate now, attract unsavory individuals (to sell drugs) to a neighborhood that may not have a drug problem. The area of West Asheville suffered from increased property crimes in the vicinity of the exchange that was established. To prevent residential neighborhoods from suffering the same plight, this bill allows neighborhoods to decide whether a needle exchange is needed.